I’ve got nothing against Valentine’s Day. I like chocolate and love as much as the next person and think it’s okay to celebrate some occasions with foods like candy and cupcakes. But I also think it makes sense to balance it out, losing a little bit of the junk (but keeping all of the fun).
Here are three ways to do it:
1. Buy (Or Make) Candy-Free Valentines
Candy manufacturers have found all kinds of way to attach their products to valentines–or in some cases (like little boxes of Nerds you can write on) actually BE the valentines. Lots of kids come home from class parties with a haul of candy that rivals Trick-or-Treat. I’m fine with some candy on Valentine’s Day and usually buy fancy chocolate for my boys. But I’m not okay with food manufacturers finding yet another way to push candy and junk onto families. I also think about children with food allergies, who may have to toss or give away candy valentines they receive.
Because my boys aren’t crafty and I’m a little lazy, we usually buy valentine cards. But if you want something more elaborate, there are lots of candy-free ideas that would please kids just as much. I love this simple “You Rule” idea from Eila at The Full Plate Blog:
- 11 Cute DIY Candy-Free Valentine’s from School Bites
- Creative Candy-Free Valentines For Kids from Fun At Home With Kids
- “Just Write” Valentines from Bits of Everything (with a printable so most of the work is done for you!)
2. Pitch In For The Class Party
The best way to make healthy changes at school? Get in there and get your hands dirty. If organizing the class Valentine’s Day party won’t work for you, volunteer to bring something (or send in with your child). I’ve organized my fair share of class parties, and I am ALWAYS grateful for ideas and help.
Here are some good-for-you party foods that are also very easy (I like healthy party fare but don’t like spending tons of time on it–see previous mention of laziness):
- These couldn’t-be-easier Strawberry Valentine Lollipops from Today I Ate a Rainbow
- Pink smoothies (made with frozen strawberries, bananas, and a splash of orange juice) or Valentine’s Spritzers made with seltzer and cranberry or pomegranate juice
- A pink and red tasting party using foods like pink grapefruit, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and raspberries
Here are some non-food activities (which in my party-planning experience, are often bigger hits with the kids than any food):
- Suggest an active game, like this Healthy Heart Game Board from Don’t Panic Mom or this Musical Hearts Game from Teach Mama
- Donate supplies for a simple craft, like valentines using old-school paper doilies
- Send in a Valentine’s Day book to be read aloud to the class (ideal for younger kids)
For more ideas, check out these Heart Healthy Valentine’s Day Party Ideas from Super Healthy Kids.
3. Think (Natural) Pink
Consider using natural food colors to brighten foods and drinks this Valentine’s Day. Yes, they take more time than using store-bought dye, but there’s growing evidence that synthetic food dyes like Red #40 may not be good for kids (read about why I’ve tried to eliminate most artificial dyes from our house: Are Artificial Food Dyes Safe For Kids?). Plus, this makes a fun food science experiment your little ones may actually love.
- Here’s my recipe for using beets to make gorgeous pink or red frosting.
- You can also use a drop or two of beet juice to make naturally-pink lemonade.
- Even easier: Beet Juice Powder, which Fields of Flavor adds to white frosting to achieve a pretty pink hue.
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